Review of Godspell – The Musical – Summary Paper

A more modern day rendition of the Gospels of Jesus, John the Baptist is depicted as a clown who gathers disciples from the city streets of New York by blowing on a horn. He comes to baptize them and in doing so, Jesus comes to him for his own baptism. Jesus and all his disciples (including women) become clowns and teach and learn the Gospels of Jesus through song and dance.

In the end, Jesus and the other disciples are crucified on a chain link fence after Judas (formerly John the Baptist) reports the group to the police.

In Lloyd Baugh’s lecture, he pointed out that the teachings of Jesus are omitted the parables are present. Also, unlike Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” musical which uses rock music, Godspell’s songs are more subdued and coherent thus causing the movie to not draw attention to itself as much as to the lessons being taught. There is a very clear representation of Jesus’ intimacy with God through his gentleness with his disciples. The repetition of an earlier song at the end signifies the resurrection of Jesus after his death. The isolation of the group as Jesus takes the disciples away from the real world and its issues and problems possibly suggests a space experience like a retreat where the disciples can be one with the lord. Rather than remain hidden with Jesus after isolation, he liberates them and grants them the strength to do all they desire.

Personally I did not really like this film. The idea was good but I believe that the whole point of the movie could have been wrapped up within 2 of the songs or so and the ending crucifixion scene. Also, the idea of one actor as both John the Baptist and Judas was confusing but at the same time it was intriguing because the viewer builds a bond with John from the beginning and then is betrayed by the change in a way that Jesus himself is betrayed by Judas. I did like the concept of a very happy and contemporary view of the story of Jesus but I felt the songs ran somewhat long on film where they were probably much more effective on stage where Godspell is usually performed. In all I do believe that the film offered an adequate portrayal of the Jesus of the Gospels for he is kind, very knowledgeable, passes information and spreads his word just as the Jesus of old, the only difference being exceptionally large shoes.